Cadaverella (2007) – By Duane L. Martin

 Oh poor Cinder.  When she was just a little girl, her father married a stripper who already had a bizarre pair of twin daughters, and then died.  Fortunately for Cinder, he left her almost all of his money in a trust that she would be able to get when she turned 21.  Until then, she was stuck living with her step-mom and her two freaky step-sisters who don’t actually ever age for some reason.

Jump ahead a bunch of years, and Cinder is now three days away from her 21st birthday.  She now works in the college library with a geeky chick named Lenore that she can’t stand, she has a boyfriend (kinda) who’s in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down, and she’s still living at home with her stripper step-mother and her two hell-spawn kids who still haven’t aged a day since they moved in.

While over at her boyfriend’s house one day, she notices that among the occult / weird stuff he has laying around his apartment is a little doll of the voodoo god Baron Samedi, who’s apparently the guardian of the dead or something like that.  Anyway, she steals the little doll, because she’s just that kind of a person.  She’s always stealing stuff from his apartment.  So because she has the doll, she gets a visit from said voodoo dude, and from there things just sort of go downhill in a hurry.  She finds out he has the ability to make things happen, and after wishing that she could hook up with their insane gardener that she had the hots for, she ends up dead.  Baron Samedi brings her back to get revenge though, and all the people in her life who’ve wrong her get their comeuppance.

Ok that’s the story, more or less.  Now on to the review part, which I’m sorry to say isn’t going to be very good.

This film did have potential, but failed on many levels, the biggest of which is the fact that there’s almost no one in this movie you can really care about except the poor geeky girl in the library and Cinder’s parylized boyfriend.  You’d think Cinder would be the one we should care about and be pulling for, but the fact is, she was a bitch to everyone and her coming back from the dead to kill the people who killed her really didn’t give any satisfaction.  In fact, you’ll almost be happy that she’s dead.

Another failure was the fact that the acting really in general wasn’t good.  I know this is an independent film, but a little work with the actors on their line delivery can really bring out the best in their performances.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  The only one in this film who was really good was Jennifer Friend as the geeky library assistant and also as the stripper step-mother Donna.  Her performance was actually quite good, especially as Lenore.  Ryan Seymour is also passable as the handicapped boyfriend, but his performance as the psycho gardner left a lot to be desired.  It takes more than sticking a bad wig on someone to put them in the mindset of a different character I guess.

Something else I found quite annoying was that the role of Baron Samedi was played by Santiago Vasquez, a hispanic guy with a hispanic accent.  I don’t have a problem with Santiago really, though his performance was a little bland.  My real problem comes from the fact that he was hispanic and had that accent.  Now when you think of voodoo, what’s the first thing that comes to mind as far as nationality?  French / Creole or Hatian…not hispanic.  I was having a hard time understanding his dialogue in places too because of his accent.  The character would have been more believable if he had at least tried to talk with a Creole accent or something.  Then it wouldn’t have mattered that he was actually hispanic or anything else, because the dialogue would have at least sounded right.  Am I being overly picky about this?  I’m sure I am, and I’ll be the first to admit that, but it bothered me while I was watching it.

Another failing was in the scene where Cinder goes back to where the guy who killed her hangs out and kills everyone.  It could have been a really awesome scene, but while she was killing everyone they cut to an outside shot, and then cut back inside when it was all over.  There was a cool and rather amusing head crushing scene with the step-mother later on, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that such a potentially awesome scene of death and mayhem was lost.

On a technical level, this movie was just fine.  The editing was good, the visuals, camera shots and lighting were all good, and most importantly, the sound was good.  The technical aspects are what saved this film from being utterly horrible.  Had any or all of these things been poorly done, it would have put the final spike through the heart of this film.  However, because the film is technically sound, it makes it at least watchable.

Despite all it’s failings, I wasn’t clawing my face off, wishing the movie would just be over so the pain could stop.  Believe me, I’ve had movies like that, and it’s not pleasant.  This film could better be termed as disappointing, because with some hard work, and maybe some better casting, it could have been so much better than it was.  There was a lot of wasted potential here, and I wish that it would have been taken advantage of, because so many things in this movie could have just been so much better.  Making Cinder someone you could actually care about would have helped tremendously.  As it is, this movie ended up being little more than a one-time-watcher.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the Brian Damage Films website at http://www.braindamagefilms.com.